Friday, February 16, 2018

IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING: L.D. Beyer


A Media Thriller
Date Published: Septmber 1, 2015

One man holds the reins of power.
One man vows to protect him.
One man vows to destroy him...

Caught in a game of chess he didn’t know he was playing until it was too late, the President makes the only move he can, plunging Washington and the nation into chaos. Stunned and reeling, Vice President David Kendall takes the oath of office and tries to heal a nation in mourning. But what the new president doesn’t realize is that things in the White House aren’t always what they appear to be, and sometimes what looks like the best option may turn out to be the worst. When one fatal decision triggers consequences he never envisioned, President Kendall finds himself caught up in the same game that cost his predecessor his life.
Although there was nothing he could have done, Secret Service Agent Matthew Richter is haunted by the death of the man he had vowed to protect. When his girlfriend dumps him and his boss tells him that his job is on the line, he thinks his life cannot get any worse. He soon realizes how wrong he is when he finds himself fighting to save another president from the deadly forces that he has unwittingly unleashed.
 
REVIEW

All Out Blitz of a Political Thriller

President David Kendall is in an unenviable position. Eight weeks since President Walter’s suicide, Kendall was forced to take the helm. Now he struggles to enlist key players to unify the administration that is dropping out. Their resignations will do nothing to help coalesce the nation still healing from the tragedy of Walter’s untimely death. Kendall seeks out counsel to help bridge the political divide and soon finds reason to suspect betrayal and treachery amongst the upper tiers of power. Little does he know that the group may have had a hand in Walter’s decision, and that they may have already targeted their next victim.

IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by  L.D. Beyer is a taut thriller that fleshes out everyone’s worst political nightmare. The character of President Kendall is the man in charge and the one who must discern friend from foe and weed through the land mines set to go off. Luckily, author L.D. Beyer has provided him with Matt Richter for protection. Matt Richter is as solid a character as I’ve read lately. His backstory of being the secret service agent closest to Walter when he committed suicide is the stuff that anyone could relate to. And it’s the guilt associated with not being able to prevent the tragedy that eats Richter alive and produces the nightmares he experiences at night.

I loved both these leads and was deeply vested in what happened to them. The plot that allowed them to live, breath, and act out was deftly handled and provided them the space to make this novel come to life. I was rooting for both all the way through this story, and doubted they’d make it through to the end.

In terms of negatives, the pacing at the beginning of this novel was a little wonky. The paragraphs were off in terms of what they included and size, and it did throw me off. But once that incendiary moment happens, there’s no more diddling about. It’s pure adrenaline-rush entertainment that makes it #unputdownable. 

I especially loved, loved, loved the way Beyer handled the technical aspects of this thriller. They were crucial to making this believable and pulling the concept seem more than real. Because of this, final score is a 4.6.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

THE MOCKINGBIRD DRIVE by A.C. Fuller



A Media Thriller
Date Published: May 19, 2017
Alex Vane was once a top investigative journalist.
Now he peddles celebrity gossip and clickbait listicles,
 watching from a distance as his wife moves on
with her life - without him. But Alex's past catches
up to him when he learns that an old source,
 James Stacy, has been killed in a
random mass shooting.

James left Alex one last scoop: a 50-year-old hard drive
that may contain a secret worth killing for...
and the name of the one person who can help him
access the data. That person is Quinn Rivers,
a paranoid and reclusive computer expert
who believes the CIA is tracking her every move.
And she may be right.

When Alex shows up at her door with the hard drive,
armed operatives are right behind him.
Now Alex and Quinn are on the run. There is no one to trust,
nowhere to hide, and nothing
but the hard drive to prove that
James Stacy's death wasn't random at all.
REVIEW

Enjoyable but Flawed

Journalist Alex Vane loses a good friend to a mass shooting. Although the gunman is deemed to be a nut-job lone wolf, Alex begins to suspect more. Sure enough, associates begin to tell him that his friend was in possession of a hard drive—an old one— and in the midst of lining up someone to extract the data off of it when killed. Soon shadowy figures cloud Alex’s vision, and a tech-savvy conspiracy theorist becomes his only hope. Together they’re in a race to find out what information was on that hard drive, and why it was important enough to kill for.  

THE MOCKINGBIRD DRIVE by A.C. Fuller was a mixed bag of tricks for me. It started out more than fine, easily capturing my interest and attention. Alex Vane showed potential to be a great character, and the plotline was thundering along for the first few chapters. They were fantastic, and I was enjoying how the story was piecing together, but then “Greta” happened. She was the first of many wheels that fell off this truck.  

Among the issues was Alex Vane himself. The guy was a credentialed journalist who created and ran his own online media outlet that dabbled in trending topics and videos depicting #starshame. Because he was portrayed as this clever, intelligent guy who’s been around the block a few times, his actions and thought processes didn’t fit. He more bumbled his way through things, acting like a complete idiot in not taking things seriously. The mere fact a friend was murdered would give most people a slight shove in the direction that the bad guys were playing for keeps. And yet Alex shrugs it off, dismissing what he knows and choosing to remain blissfully unaware. Another problem was that he engages in way too many rounds of pretzel logic. IRRITATING! Especially when it only tightens the knot being formed by remaining obtuse. The next thing on my list (yes, I did keep tabs), was the political correctness going on. It seemed contrived. Especially when he labels the one person trying to help him as a “conspiracy theorist.” He dismisses her as not reliable only because she had a stint in a mental health hospital. Shouldn’t someone who took the proper steps be applauded and not condemned? Where’s the PC correctness where she’s involved? Seemed very unfair. All of the above alienated me from this character, and had me cheering whenever he got pummeled -- and I haven’t even gotten to Greta yet.

Oh, jeez! GRETA! Even the invocation of that egocentric self-serving bimbo’s name is enough to start me reliving the torture of passages dealing with this skank. And if I found Alex’s inner dialogues grating, Greta’s hare-brained musings had me looking for a bridge to jump off of. The fact that Alex treats the nonsensical drivel that leaks out this new age scatterbrain’s mouth as wisdom to live by made me wonder if being in love is injurious to brain cells. But then I remembered it couldn’t be love. What Alex was experiencing is masochism. And just because he feels compelled to enjoy torture doesn’t mean I do. The shrew’s constant criticism of everything, including breathing, was more than annoying. For instance, the online media outlet Vane started? Greta doesn’t think it “serious enough” for her liking and wishes that Vane would do something like find the cure for cancer. Actually, Greta, we’d all like someone to do that, but we often earn our bitcoins in less noble endeavors. And all the whininess only covers an extremely vindictive nature and not a heart of gold. Nope, no redeeming qualities here. She goes on, wreaking some pretty childish revenge, yet still he’s interested in this whack job? Even AFTER he finds out? And when I think about Alex considering this skank stable while labeling the woman actually trying to save his life unstable, yeah, no. But the author never gives up trying to convince us of this undying passion. I’d liken the wasted effort of attempting to capture the essence of why Alex and Greta are together to watching someone bleed out on the floor.

All of the above ruined an otherwise great novel because that’s what THE MOCKINGBIRD DRIVE should have been—and still could be. It should have soared to fantastically intense thriller heights, but its wings were pinioned and there were those two cement blocks on its feet – both named Greta.*shudders*

As for the positives, I’ll start with the fact that M.C. Fuller is a gifted author. There’s no denying the talent there. The author is also creative as is exhibited by an extremely inventive and original plotline. The pacing was also pretty tight except when inner machinations and wheat grass sniffing Greta bogged it down. The chase scenes where Alex is outrunning the bad guys are outstanding. They draw us right in and get our hearts pounding. Another strong point was the characters. All except for you-know-who are very well developed and interesting. No one-dimensional characterizations to be found. The technical explanations were also deftly handled and the descriptive passages exceedingly well-drawn.

What can I say? Ultimately, I did enjoy  the book and can recommend it with reservations. But because it’s a mixed bag of tricks, I’m not scoring it as high as I might if those issues were corrected. So in the end, I’m giving MOCKINGBIRD DRIVE 3.6 stars.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

INVITATION TO DIE: Jaden Skye






Mystery / Thriller
Date Published: September 15, 2015

Two women have gone missing in two weeks: the first, found dead, was slashed and dumped in a back alley in Boston. The second was discovered by a child in a Swan Boat Ride. As fear intensifies, Hunter, the head of the FBI Behavioral Unit, calls his star criminal profiler, Tracy Wrenn, to help on the case. Even though she had plans to become engaged that evening, Tracy quickly cancels her plans and rushes to Boston to help.
A beautiful, young professor of criminal psychology, Tracy has become renowned for her success at cracking cases no one else can. With her unusual insights and unique point of view, she is relentless at probing the inner minds of murderers. When a third woman goes missing, and when Tracy finds herself in danger, everything intensifies. In a shocking turn of events, Tracy finds out more not only about the killer, but about herself--and learns that nothing is what is seems.

REVIEW

Good Solid Entertainment


Tracy Wrenn, a star criminal profiler, is brought in to help solve a troubling case. Two women in two weeks have gone missing, and turned up dead. The most recent victim was found mangled in the bottom of a Swan Boat Ride by a young child, and the investigative team is far from happy. Jordan Hunter, head of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, has no choice but to enlist Wrenn’s help. Wrenn eagerly accepts the invitation to delve into another twisted mind, but her boyfriend Wess is not pleased. He’d been planning on spending the evening getting engaged and celebrating. Tracy would like to oblige, but there’s a killer to stop and she knows she’s the one to do it.

I enjoyed INVITATION TO DIE. It got my interest on the first page and never let up. The character of Tracy Wrenn was a huge part of that. She wasn’t predictable and neither were her interactions. Everything was kept slightly off balance so you weren’t sure what was coming next. Most of all, I liked that the mistakes made weren’t caused by stupidity. Intelligent people make mistakes all the time, and Tracy is all too human.

The pacing was good and the story taut without unnecessary frills. The investigation was well-covered with just enough details to cue us in on what the agents were thinking. Wrenn’s breakdown of the psychological motivations behind the murders was also well-handled as was the investigation itself. Lots of suspects, but who to choose? Who to choose?

The ultimate reveal didn’t let me down. The edge was slightly taken off by the fact I did guess who the killer was, but no matter. I quickly switched over to becoming engrossed in what would happen, and the answer was a lot! The ending was action-packed and didn’t disappoint.

Conclusion: Loved Wrenn; loved the story. And what really interested me about her were those little glimpses of something else going. They were there, shadowing Wrenn’s exchanges in her professional and personal life. They hinted, “All is not as it seems”, so I definitely would be up for reading more of the series to see where it all goes.

If you’re a mystery buff and have a little time, INVITATION TO DIE is a solid read. Four stars from me.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review of LIMELIGHT by Emily Organ



Mystery / Thriller
Date Published: February 28, 2017


How did an actress die twice?
London, 1883. Actress Lizzie Dixie drowned in the River Thames,
so how was she murdered five years laterin Highgate Cemetery?
Intrepid Fleet Street reporter Penny Green was a friend of Lizzie’s and
Scotland Yard needs her help. Does Penny unwittingly hold clues to
Lizzie’s mysterious death? Penny must work with Inspector James
Blakely to investigate the worlds of theatre, showmen and politicians in
search of the truth.
But who is following her? And who is
sending her threatening letters?
Penny is about to discover that Lizzie’s life was more complicated,
and dangerous, than she could ever have imagined.
If you like a murder mystery then you'll love
this atmospheric Victorian mystery by Emily Organ.

REVIEW

A Fantastic New Mystery Series!  

Uh oh! Actress Lizzie Dixie’s managed to get herself killed—twice. She was drowned in the Thames River the first time, and now she’s been found shot dead in Highgate Cemetery. It’s quite a feat, but no worries. Intrepid street reporter Penny Green is hot on the trail of untangling the mystery of Lizzie’s hidden lives and buried secrets. Penny Green being on the case is a miracle at all because: (1) it’s 1883 and women don’t solve murders; (2) Penelope has already been fired for publicly disagreeing with the police; and (3) it’s 1883 and women don’t solve murders! But there she goes, helping Inspector James Blakely and noticing he’s kinda cute in every kinda way. Is it wrong to notice? Not when a book is this delightful!

What can I say? LIMELIGHT is the first entry in the PENNY GREEN MYSTERIES and I’m HOOKED! Intriguing story, compelling writing, fantastic characters are all there to entice you to follow along. It’s a must read for any detective fan, especially since Ms. Organ pays such meticulous attention to historical detail. I admire authors who can pull this off, and would liken her to Anne Perry in this regard. They both include the customs and mores of the time, and it’s downright fascinating. It's especially true when the stories document the way pioneers, represented by Ms. Penelope Green, helped pave the way for later generations of females wishing to spread their wings.

The pacing is more than good, and the storytelling superb. I loved Penny Green in all her feistiness. There’s an elegance and charm, and I do wonder if she’ll ever become closer to the equally charming Inspector Blakely. They would make such a lovely couple, going through life solving mysteries, and raising eyebrows at the same time.

Definitely download yourself a copy and see what the buzz is about. This is one I can highly recommend! 

FIVE CRIME-STOPPING STARS!!!! 

          BUY NOW!!!